Math does a number on Roaring Fork School District |

Math does a number on Roaring Fork School District

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Math, says Roaring Fork School District Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall, is the district’s area of most concern. More specifically at the middle and high school levels.

“Math is a statewide issue,” Haptonstall said. “It’s not that the kids can’t perform mathematical functions, it’s that (administrators) are still having a hard time matching instruction to what the tests cover.”

Despite being below state averages in math in every grade level districtwide according to Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) results, the only declines from 2007-08 came at the fifth and 10th-grade levels. Elementary schools saw the highest achievement in the district in math. Districtwide, 64 percent of third-graders tested at proficient or advanced in math, 56 percent for fourth grade, 53 percent for fifth grade. Sixth grade, at the middle school level, holds strong at 57 percent of students proficient or advanced.

“It’s not so much the basic math as (the subject) gets pretty complicated quickly,” Haptonstall said.

At the seventh-grade level only 38 percent of district students tested at proficient or advanced. Eighth-graders tested slightly higher at 41 percent. At the high school level the trend maintains with 41 percent of ninth-graders testing at proficient or advanced. The 10th-grade level then drops drastically to 30 percent proficient or advanced in math.

However, 10th grade tested nearest the state’s average, only 3 percent behind. The largest gap comes, coincidentally, at the elementary level with fourth- and fifth-graders testing 12 percent below the state average in both grade levels.

But the struggles lie not only in math, according to Haptonstall.

“Our math scores, while they are not in line with the state average in some cases, in some schools they are,” Haptonstall said. “But part of what I encourage people to do is look at what kind of specific population we are looking at.”

Across the board there were gains and losses at every grade level in math. Some of the largest gains were seen at the high school level with Basalt High School 10th-graders increasing 30 percent in math. Broken down further, Anglo 10th-grade students at BHS increased 14 percent while Latino students increased 12 percent as well.

Roaring Fork High School ninth-graders also saw huge increases in math with a jump of 15 percent; Anglo students improved from 37 percent proficient or advanced from 2007 to 60 percent in 2008, while Latinos also improved from only 4 percent proficient or advanced in 2007 to 16 percent in 2008.

But the schools also swaps gains and declines from grade to grade. Ninth grade at BHS had a 16 percent decrease from 2007 to 2008 in students scoring proficient or advanced. Anglos dropped 15 percent while Latino students dropped only 4 percent. At RFHS where ninth-grade students saw strong gains, the 10th-graders showed a 12 percent decline; a 22 percent decrease for Anglo students and a 4 percent decrease for Latino students.

“Math is probably our biggest struggle,” Haptonstall said. “Basalt High School has had a lot of success with their integrated math program, which is very much application-based learning, whereas the other schools have done pretty much a traditional math curriculum. We’ll be doing a lot of work in math next year, after really looking at what’s working well and what’s not working and asking why it’s not.”

In other areas such as reading and writing, Haptonstall said the CSAP scores were “generally very encouraging.” The district overall saw four grades increase CSAP scores in writing, one remained steady, and three showed decreases. Eighth grade saw the highest gain with 6 percent over the previous year, though that is still 2 percent below the state average.

In reading, the district split gains and declines with four grades each. The highest gain was 12 percent at the sixth-grade level, while the largest decline was 4 percent at both the seventh and 10th grades. Both of which, while still below, were within 8 percent of the state’s average.

Last year was the first year for science to be included at the 10th-grade level, but RFSD maintained at 36 percent and 45 percent at the proficient or advanced in fifth and eighth grades, respectively.

And overall in math, despite the district being below the state average in all grades, the district had increases in five grades, one remained constant, and two declined. The largest gain was 11 percent at the sixth-grade level, while the largest decline came at fifth grade of 12 percent.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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